As production companies continue to develop their approach to reflect audience needs and preferences, it’s important to have a wide and diverse talent pool to call upon to meet the challenges of schedules and budgets.
Ensure you reach out to, and support, under-represented talent – acknowledging the value that diversity and inclusion brings to productions.
In a predominantly white, non-disabled environment, it’s known that isolation and a lack of identifiable role models can lead to stress and people leaving workplaces, where they don’t feel supported or see themselves reflected in the organisation.
We can all better support our disabled colleagues, as well as increase diversity, social mobility and equality within our sector, by adopting some simple steps when selecting teams.
Key questions for your production include:
- Do you have diversity at senior management level?
- Could you think about offering mentoring and/or a buddy-system to help build mentally healthy workspaces?
- Have you considered whether your job ads are inclusive?
- Do you regularly review the accessibility of your application process?
- Do you use anonymous recruitment?
- Have you considered how to arrange more accessible interviews and inductions?
Key recruitment resources for diversity and inclusion
Consider advertising jobs in several new places and through groups that support diversity and inclusion, such as:
- The TV Collective: A networking resource connecting Black and Global Majority TV professionals to opportunities in the TV and film industry
- Deaf and Disabled People in TV (DDPTV): Accepts job posts to unite production companies with D/deaf, Disabled and Neurodivergent television professionals
- Look Beyond the List: A resources site that includes talent lists promoting inclusivity and equity
- Equal Access Network (EAN) from Film London: Supported by the Mayor of London, the EAN offers support to productions looking to recruit under-represented and diverse talent
- The British Blacklist: Offer a platform to connect with Black creative talent across the industry
- Filming in England from Creative England’s Production Services: Offers tailored suggestions through their free crewing service in addition to their national database
- Screen South, North East Screen, Screen Yorkshire and Screen Scotland: May help you dig deeper than your usual networks
- Facebook groups: May be useful for targeted recruitment, including Northern Freelance TV Production Staff and North East Film and TV Crew
- ScreenSkills schemes: Such as the High-end TV Leaders of Tomorrow programme, which has diverse talent looking for step-up opportunities; or Trainee Finder that helps secure entry and assistant level talent, by offering paid placements, which can be invaluable kick-starting careers
- Pact’s Diversity Tool Kit: Provides useful contacts for connecting with diverse industry talent
Creating inclusive job ads
To create more inclusive job adverts, descriptions and specifications:
Ensure criteria for the role is justified
- Consider unconscious bias and don’t use discriminatory language, which could include using university degrees or other qualifications as shorthand for required skills.
Use plain English
- It’s easy to overcomplicate things by using jargon and industry or internal acronyms. Instead, use short, concise sentences, containing key information relevant to a role.
Avoid coded language
- Keep language neutral to appeal to diverse groups, gender identities and cultures. For example, research shows that ‘lead’ roles often show male bias while ‘support’ roles use female coded language.
Use accessible fonts
- All written documents must be accessible, so consider colour, font size, typeface, and ensure sufficient spacing to make adverts and specifications easy to read.
- For font types, use Arial, Calibri, Century Gothic, Helvetica, Tahoma, Times New Roman or Verdana to make your content more accessible (note that this is less of a consideration for screen readers).
Add alternative text to images
- Add alt text to describe informative images or graphics, so screen reader users can hear descriptions.
- Be specific in descriptions and use correct grammatical rules.
- There’s no need to add ‘image/picture of’ in alt text descriptions.
- For decorative images or objects, if you want screen readers to skip over images, you can make the alt text field empty (aka null), written as: alt=””.
Include alternative formats
- Add the option for users to request an alternative format if required.
- If you have questions about supporting alternative formats and the needs of disabled people, seek specialist advice.
Reviewing your application processes
Look to refresh your application process regularly, and be aware that different approaches can lead to accessibility challenges.
Consider your application format, and whether it could include video or audio recordings, as well as written processes.
Submitting CVs can save applicants time, but they have been said to narrow accessibility – as parts of the industry are dominated by male, middle class, non-disabled, and white people who’re likely to have more extensive CVs of credits.
If CVs are your main recruitment method, those who don’t fit certain categories may have less chance of fair consideration, so think about new ways of assessing skills.
However, also be aware that forms can be long, inaccessible, and take time, particularly for people with certain needs.
Personal statements, if accepted in a range of formats, can give applicants the opportunity to promote themselves in their preferred way.
Arranging accessible interviews
Follow your internal policies on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and ensure you consider the following:
- Can interviews be remote, rather than in person, to attract regional talent and reduce costs on both sides?
- Have you set questions that every candidate can answer for fairness and transparency?
- Note that all candidates should be asked the same set of questions.
- How will you manage individual requirements and support needs, if someone discloses a physical or mental health condition, or both, either before or during an interview?
- How will you ensure a candidate never feels they were denied a post because they disclosed disability or illness?
- Candidates shouldn’t be asked about protected characteristics uninvited – but if they’re mentioned in their application, you can explore what their needs and adjustments would be should their application be successful.
As we regularly review Toolkit content, if you have any suggestions to improve this guide, or any part of the site, we would love to hear from you.